Monday, 11 May 2015

NEWSLINK: Mayfield Tigers Owner Accepts Plea Deal

For the better part of a decade, Steve Stalton has kept his five big cats at his Mayfield home, but after accepting what's known as an "Alfred plea" deal Wednesday, he now has a year to find a new home for the three tigers and two leopards.
"I am accepting something, a plea deal, which I really didn't want to do," said Stalton Wednesday afternoon, adding he made the decision based on the advice of his attorney.
Under the agreement reached at Mayfield Town Court, in which he entered guilty pleas to failing to obey a cease and desist order and operating a business without proper permits, Stalton will not serve jail time so long as the animals are off his Route 30 property within a year.
“I wanted to get the truth out and basically, I still didn't get it out,” said Stalton.
It marks the end of a years-long legal saga that delivered numerous court rulings against him and rejected appeals.
"To me I feel I was being set up, they are picking on the little man," he said.
The key issue Stalton argued against in court is whether he's operating a home business.
"I'm not a business, I never wanted to be, I don't want to be," said Stalton.
When he was asked to file an application for Mayfield's planning board in 2012, Stalton insists he never checked any of the three options for business type, instead writing he operates a "non-commercial private preserve for the exhibition of endangered animals.”
When his application was returned, he claims someone from the town checked a box marking his property as a "home occupational business."
"Lo and behold, there was the checkmark ‘home occupation,’” said Stalton, while holding up what he believes to be the original and doctored copies of his application. “I said 'I'll be damned.'"
Because Stalton waived his right to appeal Wednesday, he must obey the judge's order, or else serve a six-month jail term. He hopes to find a place where he and his animals can live together in peace.
"I would rather not move, I would rather just stay here and be left alone and live our lives out and once they die, they die and that's it,” said Stalton. “This is my passion, this is what I enjoy doing. I am giving them life and they are giving me life."

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